Archive for April, 2012

April 30, 2012

Developing our MARAC thinking – what is the role of GPs?

Some of you will have read in our e-News about the work that is going on in relation to supporting MARACs around the country.  The joy of having a blog is that I can sometimes sneak out information about what we are doing before it is 100% official.  It is a habit that makes me universally popular with my colleagues!

As you will know by now, we see working more effectively with health practitioners as a key way of helping to address domestic abuse and achieving our goals of halving the number of high risk victims from 100,000 to 50,000 and halving the time it takes to get effective help from 5 to 2.5 years. Lots of people ask us about how they can be engaging GPs with their local MARAC as a way to reach just about everyone who experiences DV.  We were really fortunate to be able to hold a small workshop last week with some of the dedicated MARAC practitioners who faithfully advise on these sorts of practical issues as well as the IRIS team who have done such great work engaging with GPs in relation to DV.

The short answer is that there is a huge range of practice occurring from no contact at all with the local MARAC in most areas, to regular GP referrals in a handful of areas.  Some safeguarding nurses are actively liaising with GPs ensuring that relevant information is shared both with the MARAC and from the MARAC.

Our plan is to hold another similar event in Bristol in a few weeks and then draft a toolkit which will give a few different care pathways – hopefully offering everyone something realistic and helpful for their area.

Do you have any practical ideas to share?  If so, do let me know – either via the blog comments, or to our help desk at – thank you.

April 18, 2012

Striking the Balance – Guidance for Caldicott Guardians about MARAC

I can’t count how many times we have been asked about what information health practitioners can share at a MARAC meeting.  There have been real variations in practice around the country but now this could all change.  Perhaps not exciting for everyone, but for the hardened MARAC anoraks (not sure that sounds very pleasant) the news that the Dept of Health has published guidance for all Caldicott Guardians about what information they can and cannot share with a MARAC is really important.  We cannot stress enough the importance of the contribution of health practitioners to a MARAC and it is essential that they are able to act with confidence in this setting.  You can find it here Striking the Balance: Practical Guidance on the application of Caldicott Guardian Principles to Domestic Violence and MARACs

We are glad to have been able to contribute to the guidance and really hope it will help all of you who work with MARACs.  It can now sit with the guidance for the other former information sharing riddle, namely requests for disclosure from the Family Courts.  It reflects lots of dedication from Chris Fincken, until recently Chair of the Caldicott Guardian Council who wrote the guidance and attended his local MARAC for several years.

April 18, 2012

You call it a U-turn. I call it Common Sense.

So Ken Clarke announced a ‘U turn’ last night in relation to the eligibility of victims of domestic abuse to Legal Aid in private law cases.  Common sense prevailed and a statement from a GP that someone has experienced domestic abuse will now be acceptable evidence, as will evidence that a woman has been to refuge.  We can fret about awareness among GP’s about domestic abuse – but it is certainly a material step in the right direction.

Equally importantly, the time period within which this ‘new’ evidence (along with a criminal investigation, MARAC case or injunction) will be acceptable has been extended from one year to two years.  Again, we can all think of cases where several years later abuse is still continuing and where facing an abusive partner in court could be both terrifying and dangerous – but it is better than Plan A.

Which just leaves us worrying about those children in private law cases where perhaps parents have mental health or other issues which prevent them representing themselves properly.  What happened to common sense there?